Table of Contents
TAKING SIDES: Clashing Views in Anthropology, Fifth Edition
Unit 1 Biological Anthropology
- Issue 1. Is Race a Useful Concept for Anthropologists?
YES: George W. Gill, from Does Race Exist? A Proponents Perspective, Nova Online (October 12, 2000)
NO: C. Loring Brace, from Does Race Exist? An Antagonists Perspective, NOVA Online (October 12, 2000)
Biological and forensic anthropologist George Gill argues that the concept of race is useful because racesconceived of populations originating in particular regionscan be distinguished by combinations of external and skeletal features. The concept of race is especially useful for the forensic task of identifying human skeletons. The notion of race also provides a vocabulary for discussing human biological variation and racism that can be understood by students. Biological anthropologist C. Loring Brace argues that distinct races cannot be defined because human physical features vary gradually (in clines) and independently from region to region, without sharp discontinuities between physical types. He says races exist in people's perceptions, but not in biological reality. In his view the peculiar historical pattern in which Native Americans, Africans brought to the U.S. as slaves, and European immigrants largely from northern Europe artificially makes it seem that these three groups form distinct races.
- Issue 2. Are Humans Inherently Violent?
YES: Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson, from Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996)
NO: Robert W. Sussman, from Exploring Our Basic Human Nature: Are Humans Inherently Violent? Anthro Notes (Fall 1997)
Biological anthropologist Richard Wrangham and science writer Dale Peterson maintain that male humans and chimpanzees, our closest nonhuman relatives, have an innate tendency to be aggressive and to defend their territory by violence. They state that sexual selection, a type of natural selection, has fostered an instinct for male aggression because males who are good fighters mate more frequently and sire more offspring that weaker and less aggressive ones. Biological anthropologist Robert W Sussman rejects the theory that human aggression is an inherited propensity, arguing instead that violence is a product of culture and upbringing. He also rejects the contention that male chimpanzees routinely commit violent acts against other male chimps. Sussman regards the notion that human males are inherently violent as a Western cultural tradition, not a scientifically demonstrated fact.
- Issue 3. Are Female Primates Selected to be Monogamous?
YES: David M. Buss, from The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating (Basic Books, 1994)
NO: Carol Tavris, from The Mismeasure of Women (Simon and Schuster, 1992)
Evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss draws on evolutionary theory to argue that humans like other primates have been shaped by evolution. For him one key aspect of our evolutionary past is that male and female humans have evolved to have different evolutionary desires. Men desire multiple sexual partners, while females seek protection, security, and proven fertility in their mates. In this view, females favor monogamy and a stable relationship with the father of their children because such stability increases the likelihood of male investment in their children. Social psychologist Carol Tavris challenges the claims of socio-biologists and evolutionary psychologists that evolution has programmed women to seek monogamy. Suggesting that primate females have been selected for promiscuity, she argues that having multiple partners provides benefits for human females just as it might for males. The best evolutionary strategy for females is to get pregnant as quickly as possible, and having multiple partners is the quickest way to achieve this goal.
Unit 2 Archaeology
- Issue 4. Did Humans Migrate to the New World from Europe in Early Prehistoric Times?
YES: Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford, from The North Atlantic Ice-Edge Corridor: A Possible Palaeolithic Route to the New World, World Archaeology (December 2004)
NO: Lawrence Guy Straus, from Solutrean Settlement of North America? A Review of Reality, American Antiquity (April 2000)
Archaeologists Bruce Bradley and Dennis Stanford maintain that there is no evidence that the ancestors of the Clovis big-game hunting people of North America originated in Siberia and migrated down an ice-free corridor from Alaska. They argue that Clovis stone tool technology probably developed among the Solutreans of Europe, and that Solutrean hunters traveled across the north Atlantic ice sheet to North America, where they became the ancestors of the Clovis people. Archaeologist Lawrence Guy Straus counters that the Solutrean culture of Europe ended at least 5,000 years before the Clovis culture appeared in the New World. He contends that the North Atlantic Ocean would have been an insurmountable barrier to human travel during the last glacial maximum. He argues that the similarities between the Clovis and Solutrean tool technologies are limited and coincidental.
- Issue 5. Did Climate Change Rather than Over-Hunting Cause the Extinction of Mammoths and Other Megafauna in North America?
YES: Donald K. Grayson and David J. Meltzer, from A Requiem for North American Overkill, Journal of Archaeological Science (May 2003)
NO: Stuart Fiedel and Gary Haynes, from A Premature Burial: Comments on Grayson and Meltzers Requiem for Overkill, Journal of Archaeological Science (January 2004)
Archaeologists Donald Grayson and David Meltzer argue that the evidence for human predation as the cause of the Plesitocene Megafaunas extinction is circumstantial. They contend that this explanation is based on four premises that find little archaeological evidence to support them. Since there is limited evidence to support the overkill hypothesis, they suggest that climate change is a more likely explanation for these extinctions in North America as they seem to have been in Europe. Archaeologists Stuart Fiedel and Gary Haynes are strong supporters of the overkill hypothesis that argues that humans overhunted large mammals to extinction in North America. They contend that Grayson and Meltzer have misinterpreted older archaeological evidence and largely ignore more recent data. They maintain that there is little evidence for climate change as the cause of the extinctions, which happened within a relatively short period of about 400 years. They feel the empirical evidence supports the overkill hypothesis.
- Issue 6. Can Archaeologists Determine the Cultural Background of the Earliest Americans from the Ancient Skeletal Known as Kennewick Man?
YES: James C. Chatters, from The Recovery and First Analysis of an Early Holocene Human Skeleton From Kennewick, Washington, American Antiquity 65(2):291-316 (2000)
NO: Michelle D. Hamilton, from Colonizing America: Paleoamericans in the New World, in Kennewick Man: Perspectives on the Ancient One, Heather Burke, Claire Smith, Dorothy Lippert, Joe Watkins, and Larry Zimmerman, eds., (Left Coast Press 2008)
In 1997 biological anthropologist and archaeologist James Chatters set off a firestorm, when he described one of the earliest skeletons found in North America as Caucasoid-like, based on a very preliminary analysis of what has come to be known as Kennewick man. Here, he provides a more thorough analysis and a much more cautious analysis of this same skeleton, finding that these remains are not similar to any modern Native American skeletons. He concludes that the 8000+ year old Kennewick skeleton, together with several other early skeletons, indicates that settlement of North America was not by a single Asian population, but a much more complex pattern of in-migration from multiple populations than most archaeologists and biological anthropologists have assumed. Forensic anthropologist Michelle Hamilton challenges Chatters's original description of the Kennewick skull as Caucasoid. She argues that Chatters and others have subsequently backed away from this description in favor of a new model they have called the Paleoamerican Paradigm. She contends that this new paradigm implies that the ancestors of modern Native Americans are not the first human settlers on the continent, much as in Chatters original assessment. After considering the analysis of the Kennewick skull and Native American reactions to the entire controversy, she concludes that the strident approach by Chatters and his colleagues have increased tensions between archaeologists and Indians like no other event in the past 20 years.
Unit 3 Linguistic Anthropology
- Issue 7. Can Apes Learn Language?
YES: E. S. Savage-Rumbaugh, from Language Training of Apes, in Steve Jones, Robert Martin, and David Pilbeam, eds., The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution (Cambridge University Press, 1999)
NO: Joel Wallman, from Aping Language (Cambridge University Press, 1992)
Psychologist and primate specialist E. S. Savage-Rumbaugh argues that, since the 1960s, attempts to teach chimpanzees and other apes symbol systems similar to human language. These studies have shown that although apes are not capable of learning human language, they demonstrate a genuine ability to create new symbolic patterns that are similar to very rudimentary symbolic activity. Linguist Joel Wallman counters that attempts to teach chimps and other apes sign language or other symbolic systems have demonstrated that apes are very intelligent animal. But up to now these attempts have not shown that apes have any innate capacity for language.
- Issue 8. Does Language Shape How We Think?
YES: John J. Gumperz and Stephen C. Levinson, from Introduction: Linguistic Relativity Re-Examined and Introduction to Part 1 in Rethinking Linguistic Relativity, John J. Gumperz and Stephen C. Levinson, eds. (Cambridge University Press 1996)
NO: Steven Pinker, from Mentalese, in The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language, (Perennial Classics 2000)
Sociolinguists John Gumperz and Stephen C. Levinson contend that recent studies of language and culture suggest that language structures human thought in a variety of ways that most linguists and anthropologists had not believed possible. They argue that culture through language affects the ways that we think and the ways that we experience the world. Cognitive Neuropsychologist Steven Pinker draws on recent studies in cognitive science and neuropsychology to suggest that Edward Sapir and Benjamin Whorf were wrong when they suggested that the structure of any particular language had any effect on the ways human beings thought about the world in which they lived. He argues that previous studies have examined language but have said little, if anything, about thought.
- Issue 9. Is Black American English a Separate Language from Standard American English, with Its Own Distinctive Grammar and Vocabulary?
YES: Ernie Smith, from What is Black English? What is Ebonics? in Theresa Perry and Lisa Delpit, eds., The Real Ebonics Debate: Power, Language, and the Education of African-American Children (Beacon Press, 1998)
NO: John H. McWhorter, from Wasting Energy on an Illusion, in The Black Scholar (vol. 27, no. 1, 2001)
Linguist Ernie Smith argues that the speech of many African-Americans is a separate language from English because its grammar is derived from the Niger-Congo languages of Africa. Although most of the vocabulary is borrowed from English, the pronunciations and sentence structures are changed to conform to Niger-Congo forms. Therefore, he says, schools should treat Ebonics-speaking students like other non-English-speaking minority students. Linguist John McWhorter counters that Black English is just one of many English dialects spoken in America that are mutually intelligible. He argues that the peculiar features of Black English are derived from the dialects of early settlers from Britain, not from African language. Because African-American children are already familiar with standard English, he concludes, they do not need special language training.
Unit 4 Cultural Anthropology
- Issue 10. Should Cultural Anthropology Stop Trying to Model Itself as a Science?
YES: Clifford Geertz, from Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture, in The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays (Basic Books, 1973)
NO: Robert L. Carneiro, from Godzilla Meets New Age Anthropology: Facing the Postmodernist Challenge to a Science of Culture, EUROPÉA (1995)
Cultural anthropologist Clifford Geertz views anthropology as a science of interpretation, and he argues that anthropologists should never model itself on the natural sciences. He believes that anthropology's goal should be to generate deeper interpretations of cultural phenomena, using what he calls thick description, rather than attempting to prove or disprove scientific laws. Cultural anthropologist Robert Carneiro argues that anthropology has always been and should continue to be a science that attempts to explain sociocultural phenomena in terms of causes and effects rather than merely interpret them. He criticizes Geertz's cultural interpretations as arbitrary and immune to disconfirmation.
- Issue 11. Was Margaret Mead's Fieldwork on Samoan Adolescents Fundamentally Flawed?
YES: Derek Freeman, from Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth (Harvard University Press, 1983)
NO: Lowell D. Holmes and Ellen Rhoads Holmes, from Samoan Character and the Academic World, in Samoan Village: Then and Now, 2nd ed. (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1992)
Social anthropological Derek Freeman argues that Margaret Mead was wrong when she stated that Samoan adolescents had sexual freedom. He contends that Mead went to Samoa determined to prove anthropologist Franz Boas's cultural determinist agenda and states that Mead was so eager to believe in Samoan sexual freedom that she was consistently the victim of a hoax perpetrated by Samoan girls and young women who enjoyed tricking her. He contends that nearly all of her conclusions are spurious because of biases she brought with her and should be abandoned. Cultural anthropologists Lowell D. Holmes and Ellen Rhoads Holmes contend that Margaret Mead had a very solid understanding of Samoan culture in general. During a restudy of Mead's research, they came to many of the same conclusions that Mead had reached about Samoan sexuality and adolescent experiences. The accept that Mead's description of Samoan culture exaggerates the amount of carefree but these differences, they argue, can be explained in terms of changes in Samoan culture since 1925 and in terms of Mead's relatively unsophisticated research methods as compared with field methods used today.
- Issue 12. Do Men Dominate Women in All Societies?
YES: Steven Goldberg, from Is Patriachy Inevitable? National Review (November 11, 1996)
NO: Kirk M. Endicott and Karen L. Endicott, from Understanding Batek Egalitarianism, in The Headman was a Woman: The Gender Egalitarian Batek of Malaysia (Waveland Press, 2008)
Sociologist Steven Goldberg contends that in all societies men occupy most high positions in hierarchical organizations and most high-status roles, and they also tend to dominate women in interpersonal relations. This is because mens hormones cause them to compete more strongly than women for status and dominance. Cultural anthropologists Kirk and Karen Endicott argue that the Batek people of Peninsular Malaysia form a gender egalitarian society in the sense that neither men nor women as groups control the other sex, and neither sex is accorded greater value by society as a whole. Both men and women are free to participate in any activities, and both have equal rights in the family and camp group.
- Issue 13. Are Peoples Understandings of Gender So Varied in Different Cultures that Gender Expresses No Human Psychological Universals?
YES: Anna Meigs, from Multiple Gender Ideologies and Statuses, in Beyond the Second Sex: New Directions in the Anthropology of Gender, pp. 99-112, by Peggy Reeves Sanday and Ruth Gallagher Goodenough, eds., (University of Pennsylvania Press 1990)
NO: Naomi Quinn and Wendy Luttrell, from Psychodynamic Universals, Cultural Particulars in Feminist Anthropology: Rethinking Hua Gender Beliefs, Ethos 34:493-515 (December 2004)
Feminist anthropologist Anna Meigs studied gender roles during her research among the Hua of the Papua New Guinea highlands, a culture in which men have great fear of women, whose bodily fluids can cause men to become severely ill. Accepting a culturally relative view of gender, she sees gender roles among the Hua as more flexible than anthropologists had traditionally assumed they were. Because both men and women operate within complex systems, she finds Hua men and women hold more than a single gender ideology about what it means to be male or female. She challenges the dual or binary opposition between the two genders in favor of what she sees as a more complex pattern of gender ideologies. Anthropologist Naomi Quinn and Sociologist Wendy Luttrell reject what they see as the extreme cultural relativism of feminist anthropologists. For them human anatomical distinctions between males and females are human universals. Such physical differences lead male children to confront the same problems for male children in all societies in which boys are nurtured primarily by their mothers, with relatively limited contact with fathers until they approach adolescence. For them, different cultures shape this transition differently in different societies, but they are constrained by biological and psychological human universals.
- Issue 14. Is Gay Marriage Natural?
YES: Linda S. Stone, from Gay Marriage and Anthropology, Anthropology News (May 2004)
NO: Peter Wood, from The Marriage Debate Goes Multicultural: Anthropologists Jump InAnd Distort the History of Their Field, National Review Online (April 2005)
Anthropologist Linda S. Stone argues that anthropologists have traditionally sought to discover and describe the range of variation among the world's cultures. A definition of marriage that covers this institution in all human societies has been futile. She views gay marriage in Western Europe, Canada, and several states in the U.S. as simply another example of the wide variation found in human societies. Anthropologist Peter Wood argues that 150 years of ethnographic studies of kinship have demonstrated that in the vast majority of human societies marriage consists of a union between a man and a woman. Claims by anthropologists that suggest otherwise are misleading by focusing on a handful of exceptional cases in exotic places. Gay marriage, he argues, is a novel institution, not merely a minor variation among the diverse forms of marriage that have been observed in the ethnographic record.
- Issue 15. Are Adopted Children Naturally Driven to Find Out About Their Birth Parents?
YES: Betty Jean Lifton, from Betwixt and Between, in Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness (Basic Books, 1994)
NO: John Terrell and Judith Modell, from Anthropology and Adoption American Anthropologist (March 1994)
Adoptee and adoption rights advocate Betty Jean Lifton argues that human beings have a natural need to know where they came from. Adoption is not a natural human state, she asserts, and in America it is surrounded by a secrecy that leads to severe social and psychological consequences for adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents. Anthropologists John Terrell and Judith Modell, who are each the parent of an adopted child, contend that the need to know one's birth parents is an American (or Western European) cultural construct. They conclude that in other parts of the world, where there is less emphasis placed on biology, adoptees have none of the problems said to be associated with being adopted in America.
- Issue 16. Does the Distinction between the Natural and the Supernatural Exist in All Cultures?
YES: Roger Ivar Lohmann, from The Supernatural Is Everywhere: Defining Qualities of Religion in Melanesia and Beyond, Anthropological Forum (November 2003)
NO: Frederick P. Lampe, from Creating a Second-Storey Woman: Introduced Delineation between Natural and Supernatural in Melanesia, Anthropological Forum (November 2003)
Cultural anthropologist Roger Ivar Lohmann argues that a supernaturalistic worldview or cosmology is at the hear of virtually all religions. For him, the supernatural is a concept that exists everywhere, although it is expressed differently in each society. For him, supernaturalism attributes volition to things that do not have it. He argues that the supernatural is also a part of Western people's daily experience in much the same way that it is the experience of the Papua New Guineas with whom he worked. Lutheran pastor and anthropological researcher Frederick (Fritz) P. Lampe argues that supernatural is a problematic and inappropriate term like the term primitive. If we accept the term supernatural, it is all too easy to become ethnocentric and assume that anything supernatural is unreal and therefore false. He considers a case at the University of Technology in Papua New Guinea to show how use of the term supernatural allows us to miss out on how Papua New Guineans actually understand the world in logical, rational, and naturalistic terms that Westerners would generally see as illogical, irrational, and supernaturalistic.
- Issue 17. Is Conflict Between Different Ethnic Groups Inevitable?
YES: Sudhir Kakar, from Some Unconscious Aspects of Ethnic Violence in India, in Veena Das, ed., Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots, and Survivors in South Asia (Oxford University Press, 1990)
NO: Anthony Oberschall, from The Manipulation of Ethnicity: From Ethnic Cooperation to Violence and War in Yugoslavia, Ethnic and Racial Studies (November 2000)
Indian social researcher Sudhir Kakar analyzes the origins of ethnic conflict from a psychological perspective to argue that ethnic differences are deeply held distinctions that from time to time will inevitably erupt as ethnic conflicts. Ethnic anxiety arises from preconscious fears about cultural differences. In his view, no amount of education or politically correct behavior will eradicate these fears and anxieties about people of differing ethnic backgrounds. American sociologist Anthony Oberschall considers the ethnic conflicts that have recently emerged in Bosnia to conclude that primordial ethnic attachments are insufficient to explain the sudden emergence of violence among Bosnian ethnic groups. He adopts a complex explanation for this violence, identifying circumstances in which fears and anxieties were manipulated by politicians for self-serving ends. It was only in the context of these manipulations that ethnic violence could have erupted.
Unit 5 Ethics in Anthropology
- Issue 18. Should the Remains of Prehistoric Native Americans be Reburied Rather Than Studied?
YES: James Riding In, from Repatriation: A Pawnee's Perspective, American Indian Quarterly (Spring 1996)
NO: Clement W. Meighan, from Some Scholars' Views on Reburial, American Antiquity (October 1992)
Assistant professor of justice studies and member of the Pawnee tribe James Riding In argues that holding Native American skeletons in museums and other repositories represents a sacrilege against Native American dead. Non-native Americans would not allow their cemeteries to be dug up and their ancestors bones to be housed in museums. Thus, all Indian remains should be reburied. Professor of anthropology and archaeologist Clement W. Meighan believes that archaeologists have a moral and professional obligation to the archaeological data with which they work. Such field data are not just about Native Americans and their history but about the heritage of all humans. He concludes that such data are held in the public good and must be protected from destruction.
- Issue 19. Did Napoleon Chagnon's Research Methods Harm the Yanomami Indians of Venezuela?
YES: Terence Turner, from The Yanomami and the Ethics of Anthropological Practice (Cornell University Latin American Studies Program, 2001)
NO: Edward H. Hagen, Michael E. Price, and John Tooby, from Preliminary Report Department of Anthropology (University of California Santa Barbara, 2001)
Anthropologist Terence Turner contends that journalist Patrick Tierneys book Darkness in El Dorado accurately depicts how anthropologist Napoleon Chagnons research among the Yanomami Indians caused conflict between groups and how Chagnons portrayal of the Yanomami as extremely violent aided gold miners trying to take over Yanomami land. Anthropologists Edward Hagen, Michael Price, and John Tooby counter that Tierney systematically distorts Chagnon's views on Yanomami violence and exaggerates the amount of disruption caused by Chagnon's activities compared to those of such others as missionaries and gold miners.